Creativity and Organization

  • I had no idea when I started on the path of becoming a professional musician how much organization and administration work it would require. Frequently, the work I need to do to ensure my music is promoted and accessible, have smooth operations, swift communications, and get reliably paid overwhelms the creative work that is at the heart of the enterprise. I miss the time in my life when the only thing on my mind was writing another song, but I also understand my work means little until it connects to an audience. And as it turns out, what really helps enable my creative process is a steady and reliable income. With compassion for the struggles of most independent musicians in getting their work out there and supporting themselves, I humbly offer this guide to getting it together.

    Sound Exchange
    Tracks airplay on internet radio and pays royalties monthly. Put all of your catalog up, both as artist and rights holder, that way you’ll get two monthly payments! SE can be set up to direct deposit to your bank account.

    Integrates easily with websites and Facebook pages. Good for selling files of both high and low quality, and you can give people the options of paying a fixed price, or paying what they want, or even donating more. Allows people to listen to tracks easily, lots of functionality to upload artwork, lyrics, credits. Pays via PayPal. If you don’t have a PayPal account, get one. 

    Streams audio. Integrates well with websites. Great for hosting tracks so people can paste links to tracks for listening in emails etc.

    CD Baby TuneCore
    Easy portals to iTunes, Amazon, Spotify etc. Sell both physical CDs and downloads. Payment weekly with direct deposit.

    Performing Rights Organizations
    USA: ASCAP  / BMI  / Harry Fox Agency  

    Tune Registry offers direct registry to all of the major USA music rights organizations and metadata services.

    Performing rights organizations collect and distribute publishing royalties which accrue to composers and lyricists. Most have online accounts you can sign up for, and you can then direct all royalties to be direct deposited. Make sure everything you’ve ever released is properly registered. You generally sign up with only one, usually in the country where you are based or where your music is most frequently played and performed. Most have reciprocity agreements with other countries to collect royalties on an international basis. Here is a list of all performing rights societies in all countries.

    The Orchard
    Portal to all digital services, and physical to Amazon. They are used by major distributors. They pay quarterly, also by direct deposit.

    Useful for items like sound files and photos that need to be accessed by others in the process of recording, design and promotion. It’s a great place to keep your press kit.

    I suppose this is re-stating the obvious, but it’s also essential that you build a well designed and smoothly functional website, along with a Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

    All this is a fair whack of work, but every bit of it will pay off in terms of generating real income that will automatically get deposited in your bank account. I suggest doing some advance work getting all the info you need together, so then it’s easy to plug it all in the websites. This includes:

    • Cover Artwork high res jpg
    • Headshot high res jpg
    • Brief album descriptions
    • Press quotes
    • Credits / Liner notes
    • Lyrics
    • Track titles and running times
    • Publishing info (if there are co-writers, you’ll need their info too)
    ISRC codes for each track
    • Album UPC (Bar code)
    • Release date
    • Listing of genres you think fit your music. Often websites will ask for Tags, which help people search, like Alternative, World, Singer-Songwriter, R & B, etc.